The Hawks made a change in their starting lineup on Wednesday, with Dewayne Dedmon replacing Damian Jones at the center position.
Dedmon would end up being a big story in the first half, as he started, yet only managed to play three minutes after picking up three fouls in that time span.
Cleveland had the first six points of the game to set the tone for the night, but the Hawks responded really well by scoring the next 11 points of the game. That binge gave Atlanta a five-point lead with just under seven minutes to go in the opening quarter.
Then, things started to sour for the Hawks, as they allowed the Cavs to go on a 27-8 run to finish the period. Atlanta was absolutely obliterated on the glass as they were forced to play their lesser big man options against Andre Drummond and Tristan Thompson.
John Collins had a noteworthy moment late during the first quarter in which he baptized Thompson in dramatic fashion. You’ll need to see it to believe it.
The Hawks found themselves with a 14-point deficit as they entered the second period and did well to cut that lead down to 11 in the opening minutes. However, in an unusual turn of events, Tristan Thompson was able to take and make two three pointers within a 40-second time span.
Atlanta’s momentum (if there was any) suddenly dissipated and the Cavaliers had their lead back to 15 points in no time.
Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter had a really good stretch midway through the second and Atlanta attempted to mount another comeback, but only got as close as 13 points.
Cleveland really expanded their lead in the final minutes leading up to halftime with the lead reaching 20 points at one time. Trae Young had an offensive burst right at the end of the quarter, but the Cavs took a comfortable 65-48 lead into the break.
The Hawks came out of the locker room looking like a much improved offensive team with three makes from distance in the opening two minutes of the third. Atlanta narrowed the deficit to just 13 points once again, but Cleveland would answer.
For as good as the Hawks offensive numbers were in the third quarter — they turned the ball over just twice and shot 52% from the field — their defense did not see any kind of improvement.
Cleveland totaled 33 points during the third and actually ended up expanding their halftime lead by a single point to carry a 98-80 cushion into the final frame.
The Hawks energy improved drastically to begin the fourth quarter and, as a result, they were able to whittle the Cavs’ lead down to 12 points.
Atlanta continued to press and were rewarded with some really outstanding play from Dewayne Dedmon, who was seemingly everywhere for the Hawks. John Collins and Young continued their usually great play on the offensive end as the Hawks made their way back into single digits with under six minutes remaining in the game.
Young was really taking advantage of Cleveland’s physical style of play by getting to the free throw line often. Those kind of points being put on the board with the clock stopped are so invaluable for a team with a bad defense and it proved to be so this evening as it really helped to pull Atlanta back into the game.
Then, with just under four and a half minutes left in the game, Atlanta committed a clear path foul which really ended up being a back-breaker for the Hawks’ comeback attempt.
Several players did have a really good offensive games for the Hawks. Trae Young led the way with 27 points and 12 dimes followed closely by John Collins’ 23 points. Cam Reddish added 16 points and De’Andre Hunter tossed in 12 more to go along with a team-best eight boards.
The Hawks will officially return from the All-Star break next Thursday against the Miami Heat at State Farm Arena, but make sure to stay tuned to Peachtree Hoops for all the best coverage of Young’s big weekend in Chicago.